Chennai, Jan 2: Top seed and World number two Rafael Nadal of Spain quelled a belated challenge from Mathieu Montcourt of France to cruise into the second round of the Chennai Open ATP Tennis tournament here this evening.
The 21-year-old Spaniard showed no mercy as he pounded his rival to register a 6-2, 6-4 win after squandering five match points in the nearly 100 minute encounter. Nadal could have wrapped up the match much easily, but Montcourt after losing the opening set badly, was trailing 1-5 in the second. He found the springs in his feet rather late and troubled Nadal with some powerful groundstrokes. But it only delayed the inevitable.
In other first round matches, seventh seed Werner Eschauer of Austria was involved in a prolonged battle before getting the better of youngster Bartolome Salva-Vidal of Spain 7-6(3), 5-7, 6-4 in one of the longest matches of tournament history that lasted nearly three hours. Kristof Vliegen of Belgium caused a mild flutter, lowering the colours of eighth seeded Marc Gicquel of France 7-6(5), 6-4.
Gicquel became the second seeded player after Marcos Baghdatis to bow out of the tournament.
The yawning difference between Nadal and Montcourt said it all as the Frenchman, ranked 121 places behind the Spaniard, proved no match for his illustrious rival.